Spring 2019 Leadership

Laurina Sousa President    United States Air Force 2004 - 2014    Hometown: Hayward, CA    Major: Interdisciplinary Studies and a minor in Business Administration    "I grew up as a first generation U.S. citizen. I decided to enlist in the military for a better life and eventually earn money for school. I also desired to see the world while serving my country. I served in the United States Air Force in several capacities, as a financial Management Technician, a Special Air Missions Flight Attendant and as a C-17 Loadmaster. I deployed to the Middle East in 2010 and worked with international military forces and dignitaries. I flew into countries I never knew existed, saw the depths of despair in poverty stricken regions and hiked unfamiliar territory. As the president of this student group, I intend to apply all that I have learned in order to propel this group so that every student veteran feels included in our veteran community.  I intend to put student veterans at the forefront. I am extremely passionate about keeping the veteran community connected and conspicuous. I hope to continue spreading awareness and sharing resources through various innovative platforms because every veteran matters. I aspire to promote the Cal Veterans group mission by improving connection, networking and engagement opportunities. I am extremely proud to be a part of of this group and I hope to reach as many veterans as possible.  AIM HIGH!”

Laurina Sousa
President

United States Air Force 2004 - 2014

Hometown: Hayward, CA

Major: Interdisciplinary Studies and a minor in Business Administration

"I grew up as a first generation U.S. citizen. I decided to enlist in the military for a better life and eventually earn money for school. I also desired to see the world while serving my country. I served in the United States Air Force in several capacities, as a financial Management Technician, a Special Air Missions Flight Attendant and as a C-17 Loadmaster. I deployed to the Middle East in 2010 and worked with international military forces and dignitaries. I flew into countries I never knew existed, saw the depths of despair in poverty stricken regions and hiked unfamiliar territory. As the president of this student group, I intend to apply all that I have learned in order to propel this group so that every student veteran feels included in our veteran community.

I intend to put student veterans at the forefront. I am extremely passionate about keeping the veteran community connected and conspicuous. I hope to continue spreading awareness and sharing resources through various innovative platforms because every veteran matters. I aspire to promote the Cal Veterans group mission by improving connection, networking and engagement opportunities. I am extremely proud to be a part of of this group and I hope to reach as many veterans as possible.

AIM HIGH!”

Zachary Valdez Vice President    United States Army 2011 - 2016    Hometown: San Diego, CA    Major: History and American Studies and a minor in Education   “I’ve had an extraordinary military career in the United States Army, it was both challenging and exciting. I deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 and shortly after that, I was activated for the California Wild Fires in 2015. I left the military in order to pursue my education in hopes of one day giving back to my veteran community. I have conducted research on the Deportation of United States Veterans in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, U.K., and the Philippines as a SURF fellow.  I am thrilled to be the Cal Veterans group Vice President while I am a student at UC Berkeley. I look forward to ensuring this groups advancement and success as we navigate our educational and professional careers.”

Zachary Valdez
Vice President

United States Army 2011 - 2016

Hometown: San Diego, CA

Major: History and American Studies and a minor in Education

“I’ve had an extraordinary military career in the United States Army, it was both challenging and exciting. I deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 and shortly after that, I was activated for the California Wild Fires in 2015. I left the military in order to pursue my education in hopes of one day giving back to my veteran community. I have conducted research on the Deportation of United States Veterans in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, U.K., and the Philippines as a SURF fellow.

I am thrilled to be the Cal Veterans group Vice President while I am a student at UC Berkeley. I look forward to ensuring this groups advancement and success as we navigate our educational and professional careers.”


Luis Cornejo   Secretary    United States Marine Corps 2011 - 2015    Hometown: Palm Desert, CA    Major: English   “I joined the United States Marine Corps and served as a Main Battle Tank Mechanic, attaining the Rank of E-4/Corporal before I transitioned out of active military service. Upon leaving the Marine Corps, I worked in the auto collision industry for a year until beginning my college education at at Community College called College of the Desert in Palm Desert, Ca. Although I was uncertain about my academic abilities, I quickly found support in the veteran community at College of the Desert, eventually serving as president of the school’s student veteran organization there. Now, in my second semester at U.C Berkeley, I seek to assist student veterans in the same way I did at my community college.  In general, I think its important to help service members transition back into civilian society but I think that doing so in an academic setting is especially important. As service members, we know how to thrive under pressure, and we have the tenacity to thrive here, but sometimes the strange landscape of education can be daunting. For me, being part of the Cal Veterans Group means doing what we can to assist our student veterans. By giving them the community and peer support they had in the military, veterans are more free to focus on their academics, myself included.”

Luis Cornejo
Secretary

United States Marine Corps 2011 - 2015

Hometown: Palm Desert, CA

Major: English

“I joined the United States Marine Corps and served as a Main Battle Tank Mechanic, attaining the Rank of E-4/Corporal before I transitioned out of active military service. Upon leaving the Marine Corps, I worked in the auto collision industry for a year until beginning my college education at at Community College called College of the Desert in Palm Desert, Ca. Although I was uncertain about my academic abilities, I quickly found support in the veteran community at College of the Desert, eventually serving as president of the school’s student veteran organization there. Now, in my second semester at U.C Berkeley, I seek to assist student veterans in the same way I did at my community college.

In general, I think its important to help service members transition back into civilian society but I think that doing so in an academic setting is especially important. As service members, we know how to thrive under pressure, and we have the tenacity to thrive here, but sometimes the strange landscape of education can be daunting. For me, being part of the Cal Veterans Group means doing what we can to assist our student veterans. By giving them the community and peer support they had in the military, veterans are more free to focus on their academics, myself included.”


 
Roberto “Beto” Gonzalez Finance Chair    United States Marines Corps 2001 - 2004    Hometown: Oakland, CA    Major: Political Science   “I am a bay area native and currently pursuing a bachelors at UC Berkeley. With this degree, I intend to alleviate some of the many immigration issues that are encountered in the U.S. Being a lawyer is a prospective goal that was not originally in my plans but is proving to be a great contender.  During my time in the Marine Corps, I was an airframe technician on CH-53Ds. With two WESTPAC tours under my belt, traveling throughout Asia was an extremely memorable experience. Having served I can attest to the difficulties encountered when separating from the service as well as the anxiety that comes along when one is trying to recreate oneself through the lens of a non militant society. I open heartedly extend my hand to all of my brothers and sisters in arms who are in need of anything and everything I have to offer. I feel it is a privilege and honor to be an officer for the Veterans group at Cal and I hope together, we can continue making education an attainable goal for all.”

Roberto “Beto” Gonzalez
Finance Chair

United States Marines Corps 2001 - 2004

Hometown: Oakland, CA

Major: Political Science

“I am a bay area native and currently pursuing a bachelors at UC Berkeley. With this degree, I intend to alleviate some of the many immigration issues that are encountered in the U.S. Being a lawyer is a prospective goal that was not originally in my plans but is proving to be a great contender.

During my time in the Marine Corps, I was an airframe technician on CH-53Ds. With two WESTPAC tours under my belt, traveling throughout Asia was an extremely memorable experience. Having served I can attest to the difficulties encountered when separating from the service as well as the anxiety that comes along when one is trying to recreate oneself through the lens of a non militant society. I open heartedly extend my hand to all of my brothers and sisters in arms who are in need of anything and everything I have to offer. I feel it is a privilege and honor to be an officer for the Veterans group at Cal and I hope together, we can continue making education an attainable goal for all.”

Bryan Knight Finance Chair    United States Navy 2006 - 2010    Hometown: Wilbraham, MA    Major: History   "I was born in Thailand and grew up in Massachusetts with no intention to join the military. However, at age 19 I found myself in the military as an Operations Specialist (My job was in the cold dark room with all the radar screens that you see in the movies). I deployed twice to the Middle East during Operation Enduring Freedom. After I served my four years, I decided to leave and pursue new opportunities. Although, I didn’t have the slightest idea of what I was going to do. I knew I wanted to get an education but had no plan in action. So I took a few classes here and there and worked full-time to support myself. It wasn’t until I got involved at the community college with other like-minded people that ignited a powerful realization that education transforms lives and that is when I pursued it full-time. My proudest moments at community college was being a writing tutor at the writing center and in the Veterans Resource Center where I could help my peers become better writers. I received 2 Associates in English and History.  My goal is to attend Law School and practice Business and Immigration Law so I can help people who come to this country and have a dream of wanting more in life. The United States is a great country and there is a lot of untapped potential to gain success and education. I believe that is an important asset in pursuing a pathway to a fulfilling and successful life.   As the Co-Finance Chair in the Cal Veterans Group, I am determined to continue the great tradition of this amazing veterans group. My number one priority is to provide great service and support to the people who answered the call of duty and who put their country and others before themselves and their education. UC Berkeley is an amazing place to continue the process of growth. For myself, the Cal Veterans Group has truly created a sense of belonging and connection to peers who have experienced similar life experiences.   Finally, I know anything is possible and the sky is the limit. I believe the pathway in achieving success is all about strategy, persistence, and believing in oneself. When the light of realization goes on inside one’s mind and they feel that rush inside, that is when their life will perpetually shine forever.  Go Bears!"

Bryan Knight
Finance Chair

United States Navy 2006 - 2010

Hometown: Wilbraham, MA

Major: History

"I was born in Thailand and grew up in Massachusetts with no intention to join the military. However, at age 19 I found myself in the military as an Operations Specialist (My job was in the cold dark room with all the radar screens that you see in the movies). I deployed twice to the Middle East during Operation Enduring Freedom. After I served my four years, I decided to leave and pursue new opportunities. Although, I didn’t have the slightest idea of what I was going to do. I knew I wanted to get an education but had no plan in action. So I took a few classes here and there and worked full-time to support myself. It wasn’t until I got involved at the community college with other like-minded people that ignited a powerful realization that education transforms lives and that is when I pursued it full-time. My proudest moments at community college was being a writing tutor at the writing center and in the Veterans Resource Center where I could help my peers become better writers. I received 2 Associates in English and History.

My goal is to attend Law School and practice Business and Immigration Law so I can help people who come to this country and have a dream of wanting more in life. The United States is a great country and there is a lot of untapped potential to gain success and education. I believe that is an important asset in pursuing a pathway to a fulfilling and successful life.


As the Co-Finance Chair in the Cal Veterans Group, I am determined to continue the great tradition of this amazing veterans group. My number one priority is to provide great service and support to the people who answered the call of duty and who put their country and others before themselves and their education. UC Berkeley is an amazing place to continue the process of growth. For myself, the Cal Veterans Group has truly created a sense of belonging and connection to peers who have experienced similar life experiences.

Finally, I know anything is possible and the sky is the limit. I believe the pathway in achieving success is all about strategy, persistence, and believing in oneself. When the light of realization goes on inside one’s mind and they feel that rush inside, that is when their life will perpetually shine forever.

Go Bears!"

Purvis Gills Public Affairs Officer    United States Navy 1991 - 1999    Hometown: Houston, TX    Major: Political Science   "I joined the United States Navy after high school and served as a Disbursing Clerk. My time in the service has afforded me many opportunities and has helped me become the person I am today. The skills and lessons learned in the Navy have helped me to be successful in life outside of the military. My deployments to other countries not only gave me the opportunity to see the world but also to understand different viewpoints and cultures.  Today, I stand before you a proud veteran, husband, father, and a Cal Berkeley student. During my time in service, I learned the importance of teamwork and that I always have more to give. The military showed me that my commitment to service didn’t stop after being discharged from the military. The Cal veterans group allows me to continue to serve. I look forward to building on the hard work and sacrifices of the Cal veterans that came before me by fostering positive community relationships"

Purvis Gills
Public Affairs Officer

United States Navy 1991 - 1999

Hometown: Houston, TX

Major: Political Science

"I joined the United States Navy after high school and served as a Disbursing Clerk. My time in the service has afforded me many opportunities and has helped me become the person I am today. The skills and lessons learned in the Navy have helped me to be successful in life outside of the military. My deployments to other countries not only gave me the opportunity to see the world but also to understand different viewpoints and cultures.

Today, I stand before you a proud veteran, husband, father, and a Cal Berkeley student. During my time in service, I learned the importance of teamwork and that I always have more to give. The military showed me that my commitment to service didn’t stop after being discharged from the military. The Cal veterans group allows me to continue to serve. I look forward to building on the hard work and sacrifices of the Cal veterans that came before me by fostering positive community relationships"

Sara Bates   Professional Outreach Chair    United States Air Force 2011 - 2017    Hometown: Frazier Park, FL    Major: English with a minor in Media Studies   “I grew up in small mountain town in Southern California, where being the youngest of four, I always looked up to my older siblings. When they left for college, I began to wonder how I would follow them in their footsteps just as I had my entire life. But something pulled me into a different direction, a path that would later lead to me enlisting in the United States Air Force as an Avionics technician. The possibilities were endless, I could be independent, travel all over the world, make lasting friendships, and go to school on my own time. In my last year of service, I was able to work with the VFW and have the utmost privilege of becoming a Ceremonial Guardsman of the Base Honor Guard. This is a service that is performed with historical honor and tradition. My fellow Airman and I represented and paid tribute to the fallen members who dedicated their lives for the freedoms of our country. I am very grateful to have been granted this opportunity to witness the impacts of fellow service members and their legacies they left behind. As I made my transition from the active duty world of the military to a veteran, I wondered what possible legacy I could leave behind.  Currently I am a student here, at UC Berkeley and I feel very fortunate to have found a school that caters to reaching out to members in the military. Just like my military family, it’s to reach out to the new veterans that are in their first steps of transition and make them feel at ease knowing there is a great support system here for their benefit. I feel honored to have this opportunity as one of the Cal Veterans group officers, and will do my best to ensure that the support and spirit of this organization are passed on.”

Sara Bates
Professional Outreach Chair

United States Air Force 2011 - 2017

Hometown: Frazier Park, FL

Major: English with a minor in Media Studies

“I grew up in small mountain town in Southern California, where being the youngest of four, I always looked up to my older siblings. When they left for college, I began to wonder how I would follow them in their footsteps just as I had my entire life. But something pulled me into a different direction, a path that would later lead to me enlisting in the United States Air Force as an Avionics technician. The possibilities were endless, I could be independent, travel all over the world, make lasting friendships, and go to school on my own time. In my last year of service, I was able to work with the VFW and have the utmost privilege of becoming a Ceremonial Guardsman of the Base Honor Guard. This is a service that is performed with historical honor and tradition. My fellow Airman and I represented and paid tribute to the fallen members who dedicated their lives for the freedoms of our country. I am very grateful to have been granted this opportunity to witness the impacts of fellow service members and their legacies they left behind. As I made my transition from the active duty world of the military to a veteran, I wondered what possible legacy I could leave behind.

Currently I am a student here, at UC Berkeley and I feel very fortunate to have found a school that caters to reaching out to members in the military. Just like my military family, it’s to reach out to the new veterans that are in their first steps of transition and make them feel at ease knowing there is a great support system here for their benefit. I feel honored to have this opportunity as one of the Cal Veterans group officers, and will do my best to ensure that the support and spirit of this organization are passed on.”

Brittny Reed   Events Planner    United States Army 2010 - Present    Hometown: Amesbury, Massachusetts    Major: Sociology   "I grew up on the east cost in New Hampshire. I graduated from Exeter High School in 2010 and joined the New Hampshire Army National Guard shortly after graduation. I moved to Elk Grove, California a year later and transferred to the California Army National Guard. I was placed in 870th MP Company out of Pittsburg, CA. During my time with the 870th, I completed three years on active duty orders and responded to the fires in Sonoma County in October 2017. I began community college in 2014 and transferred to UC Berkeley in 2017.  Although I am currently still serving and continuing my education, my service will be coming to an end August 2019. Regardless of my other obligations at this time, I will ensure as the event planner for the CVG, all events for our veterans will be planned accordingly. I look forward to creating events where student veterans, alumni and members of the community can come together."

Brittny Reed
Events Planner

United States Army 2010 - Present

Hometown: Amesbury, Massachusetts

Major: Sociology

"I grew up on the east cost in New Hampshire. I graduated from Exeter High School in 2010 and joined the New Hampshire Army National Guard shortly after graduation. I moved to Elk Grove, California a year later and transferred to the California Army National Guard. I was placed in 870th MP Company out of Pittsburg, CA. During my time with the 870th, I completed three years on active duty orders and responded to the fires in Sonoma County in October 2017. I began community college in 2014 and transferred to UC Berkeley in 2017.

Although I am currently still serving and continuing my education, my service will be coming to an end August 2019. Regardless of my other obligations at this time, I will ensure as the event planner for the CVG, all events for our veterans will be planned accordingly. I look forward to creating events where student veterans, alumni and members of the community can come together."

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